Since the end of the Second World War, the growth of cities has been relentless. In 1950, less than a third of the world’s population lived in towns and cities. According to UN estimates, 2007 marked the first year in history that more people in the world lived in urban than in rural areas. The urban population was predicted to reach 68% by 2050 – more than doubling in the space of a century.
Metropolitan areas have been worst-hit by the pandemic, with the virus spreading fastest in densely populated areas. Urban lockdowns and social distancing have called into question some of the cornerstones of city life: proximity, interaction, convenience and vitality among them.
If history is a good indicator of the future however, cities will recover. Normal life will return, but not everything will be the same.
The period of transition to any “new normal” will present cities, with more crucial questions to be answered in a shorter time than ever before. Investors, businesses and regulators now have an important role to play to influence permanent change that will help cities recover and build a better future for its citizens.